The Walt Disney Company will begin furloughing its employees as it grapples with the impact of park and store closures and delayed film releases as well as a downturn in TV advertising amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the conglomerate said Thursday.
The Burbank-based media giant stated that staffers “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time” will be furloughed as of April 19. The affected staffers “will receive full health care benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney,” the company said.
Numerous divisions are expected to be hit, including Disney’s film empire, which comprises myriad labels as well as marketing and distribution and a host of operational units. Since the company closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox last year, there have been staff reductions in multiple divisions. Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Monday, Disney disclosed that its top executives would be taking pay cuts on base salaries. Executive chairman Bob Iger will forgo his entire base salary, while CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50 percent pay cut on his salary (though not his entire compensation package).
With a blackout on moviegoing in the U.S. and much of the world — including China — the release pipeline at Disney, as well as the rest of Hollywood, has come to a standstill. Many don’t expect theaters box office traffic to resume in earnest until late summer.
The studio division has halted live-action production on its films, including Marvel’s Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid and Shrunk, a sequel to 1989’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Production also shuttered on Searchlight’s Ridley Scott drama The Last Duel and Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley.
And the company’s ESPN division has had to rework its programming lineup as nearly all sports leagues have gone dark. The sports network, which has been airing movies, classic games and documentaries, is expected to take an advertising hit without the NBA and other major events.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: Disney
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